Association surveys bartenders on ten most requested drinks – American Bartenders Association

Association surveys bartenders on ten most requested drinks – American Bartenders Association – column

Mort Hochstein

Association surveys bartenders on ten most requested drinks

What the bartenders say: If there’s any doubt that white goods are today’s best sellers, a recent survey by the American Bartenders Association (ABA) should eliminate it. The ABA asked its membership to name the 10 most requested popular drinks, and the white stuff ran first, second, and third.

In order of popularity, it’s vodka and tonic, gin and tonic and rum and coke. The next most requested drinks are Bloody Mary, beer, Chablis, Margarita, Martinis and Manhattans, Shooters and Iced Tea.

Those bartenders, owners or general managers who responded to the survey also echoed the general unhappiness with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) pressures. The greatest majority (94%) of respondents feel that DWI must be part of driver education in school while 92%–surprising to say–said it has had no effect on bar sales.

When asked if eliminating Happy Hours and two-fers would change the DWI accident rate, 2,599 of the 2,730 respondents said that such action would have no effect. Only 171 said they did welcome the efforts to halt drunk driving. The bartenders, to a man (well, 45% of the respondents were female), said individuals must take responsibility for their own alcoholic consumption.

Certain other answers were predictable, though still interesting. The majority of respondents were against the banning of beverage alcohol ads on radio and television, with such comments as “It’s a part of life’ and “Censorship threatens the rights of all Americans.’ More than two-thirds also said they were against raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 years, but that issue is something on which they’ve had little influence.

And, I’m happy to mention, NRN was the most widely read restaurant journal among the bartenders, followed by the local state beverage journal and the consumer publication Food and Wine.

Almost like coals to Newcastle: First there was the Hilton International program, which brought American wines to Hilton hotels around the world. Because of the relative strength of the dollar versus weaker foreign currencies and because of generally higher American wine prices, the program wasn’t always so successful as its sponsors wished, but it’s on-going and improving. Now one of the European chains has jumped in with a substantial promotion.

France’s largest hotel restaurant group, Eurest, part of the huge Compagne International des Wagon-Lits conglomerate, has ordered 8,000 cases of wine from Domaine Marion, a California negociant. It’s the largest single United States-to-France wine shipment on record.

Eurest bought the wine for an American food and wine festival in its 450 restaurants. Eight thousand cases, while small when in comparison with imports arriving in this country, is about half the total amount of wine the United States shipped to France in 1984. Domaine Marion is sending two blends. One will wear a French-designed label saluting the Statue of Liberty for the Cuvee Du Centenaire, and another, Pacific Coast, which will carry a photograph of a sailboat. Caymus, another California winery, will send a 1983 Cabernet Sauvignon wearing its second label, Liberty School.

Pressure in print: When you look around New York and see top-flight restaurants, such as Windows on the World and Aurora, moving a lot of wine and definitely giving the customer a decent break on prices, it is hard to understand why more operators do not do the same.

Washington Post Sunday magazine columnist James Conaway recently blasted restaurants in the nation’s capital, quoting a reader who said: “The price of wine in Washington restaurants has gone from ridiculous to infuriating. Why do people put up with it?’

“Restaurateurs,’ the columnist argues, “are charging usurious luxury rates. The claim that the prices are justified to keep restaurants solvent is in most cases blatantly false. Restaurants do not need to triple and quadruple and quintuple the price of wine, as the success of good restaurants with reasonably priced wine proves.’ Overcharges, he says, should be avoided.

The writer also claims that portions are decreasing while prices are going up. He complained of paying $2.50 for about five ounces of cheap Pinot Grigion, which is not a bad deal, compared with prices I’ve seen in my travels lately. But, as he told his readers, his $2.50 was “a bit less than the wholesale cost of the entire bottle,’ and he figured the markup by the glass at more than 400%.

That sort of media pressure is not pleasant for restaurateurs, who already have enough problems these days. There are “white hats’ and “black hats’ in this business, and I think it’s more productive to write about the white hats. We’d be happy to make a rebuttal to the Post columnist, if anyone cares to defend on-premises wine pricing policies.

Photo: A Washington Post columnist recently said wine prices had gone from “ridiculous to infuriating.’

COPYRIGHT 1986 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group